Alsace Harvest Credit David Silverman

Harvest Tours

Guy Haran

As the month of August ends, the harvest begins in many of the wine regions of the Northern Hemisphere. So where should you travel now, or not? Where will visitors be welcomed with open arms during the most beautiful season of the year, and where will they ask you to shed your shoes and join the grape-treading?

When the leaves are green, the grapes are red and the sky is blue, this is the perfect season to visit wineries, taste their wine and witness the growers and winemakers at their peak. However, a winemaker friend told me recently “Between July and November, don’t make plans with me”. 

This is the time when the wineries make their annual concentrated effort to bring in the grapes, one without which we would not have wine. Even so, many wineries are still happy to welcome visitors who will join in the celebrations and even roll up their sleeves and experience the harvest in the most physical way possible. In this article, we will discuss where are the best places to witness this very special time of the year. 

Bordeaux: The Capital of Wine

About 10,000 wineries fill the region of Bordeaux, which significantly increases the chances of securing a visit during harvest season. Bordeaux is a wine “amusement park” and the harvest period is a peak for tourism in the region. Crowds of tourists, from all over the world, fill the wineries and hotels, so you are definitely welcome to visit and taste. 

Although some wineries would prefer to close their doors during the harvest, many of the wineries have a professional hospitality department that knows how to receive visitors even at the height of the season. Do not miss the la Fête des Vendanges, the annual harvest festival that takes place in Saint-Émilion (in 2024, on October 12th & 13th), a colorful and impressive event with a tradition of hundreds of years.

A most colorful event is le Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc that attracts thousands of participants from all over France and the world. In colorful clothes and elaborate costumes, the runners make their way through the vineyards and chateaux of Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Saint-Estèphe, Médoc and Haut-Médoc over three days, with musical breaks, wine-tastings, an oyster tasting and even steak served at the 39th kilometer.

Credit David Silverman - Alsace Vineyards 5

Bourgogne: The Holy Grail of Wine

For an intimate and thorough visit, Burgundy is better avoided during the harvest. The region has thousands of tiny and exquisite wineries, where the host is usually the winemaker. It will be possible to visit the larger houses during this period, such as Maison Joseph Drouhin, Louis Jadot, Chanson, Bouchard Père et Fils, and even smaller wineries such as Château de Pommard will be able to welcome you. However, we believe the real charm lies in visiting the tiny wineries and meeting the vine-growers and winemakers, which will not be possible during the harvest.

Alsace: The Elegant Northeast of France

You can definitely come to Alsace when the French summer vacation (the famous Vacances) is over. Alsace, located in northeastern France on the border with Germany, enjoys (or suffers, depending on which part of the glass you prefer to focus on) a relatively cold and dry climate that promises a late harvest, even a very late one by European standards. Only towards the month of October will the harvesters start to fire up their engines, and the winegrowers will sharpen their secateurs and go to harvest. The colorful autumn harvest season is the buffer between the pleasant and long summer and the charming Christmas season that follows it.

Portugal: Beauty at the Edge of the Continent

In the Douro Valley, famous for its Port wine, wineries are very happy to receive visitors during this season. Even more so if you are ready to roll up your pants, climb into the Lagar, and stomp the grapes. Lagars are large shallow troughs that contain thousands of liters of must and grapes. To extract the most flavors from the skins without crushing the seeds, it is necessary to mix the fermenting fruit several times a day, and the human foot is the perfect tool for this traditional and unique process. In some wineries you may even find a pianist, whose music will encourage the workers to dance on the grapes at a fast pace. 

Rioja: A Spanish Tradition

The annual La Feria de San Mateo festival takes place at the end of September in Logroño, the capital of Rioja. The tradition that began about 900 years ago includes a week-long celebration which includes a colorful and impressive procession that shows the great importance of wine in the region. There are concerts, fireworks and countless parties, and of course, lots of food and wine.

Here in Rioja they will be happy to host visitors in many of the wineries (although not all), even during the harvest. It is definitely recommended and worthwhile to come and visit during the month of September.

Tuscany: Colorful Romance

Countless festivals fill the Tuscan countryside during the harvest season.

The Montecarlo DOC’s wine festival takes place during the first two weeks of September and includes music, art and, of course, lots of wine. Greve in Chianti, located between Florence and Siena, hosts the colorful Expo del Chianti Classico during the first week of September, a celebration that includes tastings from the area’s best wineries that also open their doors to visitors at this time. 

In the third week of September, we are invited to celebrate in the village of Panzano in Chianti, and let’s not forget the Festa dell’Uva, the century-old grape festival held in the village of Impruneta which includes a parade of floats, performances, a handicrafts fair and of course, much food and wine.


There are plenty of other harvest festivals held in southern Spain, Germany, Hungary and many other wine regions. The harvest period is a wonderful time to celebrate wine in its birthplace together with the dedicated people who work to fill the bottles that will be enjoyed throughout the whole year.

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